The San Juan Daily Star
Sources: Pro-statehood group backs Río Piedras chancellor for UPR presidency
By The Star Staff
Although La Fortaleza has insisted it is neutral in the process of selecting a new University of Puerto Rico (UPR) president, the group Fuerza Estadista UPR participated in a meeting at New Progressive Party (NPP) headquarters last Thursday to, among other things, discuss strategies for putting UPR Río Piedras Campus Chancellor Luis Ferrao Delgado in place as president.
Last week, the Search and Consultation Committee of the UPR governing board trimmed down the list of candidates for the university’s presidency. The position has been occupied on an interim basis by Mayra Olavarría Cruz since August. Thus the files of Ferrao Delgado, Carlos J. Andújar Rojas, Ubaldo Córdova Figueroa and Alexandra Medina-Borja will be sent to the academic senates of the various UPR campuses so that they may initiate their processes of analysis, validation of references and interviews with the candidates. The academic senates must make a decision on or before April 4.
The information about the NPP meeting was provided by two sources Sunday. The meeting was convened by Misión Estadista to discuss activities for Citizenship Day slated to be held on March 2. But Fuerza Estadista at the meeting held at NPP headquarters in Kennedy Avenue used the occasion to unite statehood forces behind Ferrao Delgado’s candidacy. One of the sources told the STAR that Córdova Figueroa, the UPR’s executive vice president for academic affairs & research, is the Plan B candidate because Ferrao Delgado noted that the consultation process requires that each candidate for president submit five references from individuals, expressing support for the candidate.
“The five people supporting my candidacy are all outstanding members of the university community. Those are the individuals supporting and promoting my candidacy,” Ferrao Delgado told the STAR in a text message. “As soon as the Consulting Committee of the [UPR] governing board makes public the documents of the candidates, I will send you the letters of support.”
Andújar in a reaction said all groups have the right to support whomever they want.
“I remain firm in the position that the Governing Board will evaluate the merits of each candidate and will select the president,” he said.
Neither Córdova Figueroa nor Medina-Borja responded to requests for comment.
Regardless of what the candidates have said, the sources said the committees at the various campuses are already being configured to ensure that the NPP favorites are selected.
For instance, the UPR Carolina Academic Senate, which is headed by Chancellor José Meza, certified the appointment of Rafael Méndez Tejeda, Alejandro P. Rodríguez and Narcisa Meza Venecia, the wife of the chancellor, to the search and selection committee for UPR president. The sources said her selection is a possible conflict of interest because Meza Venecia is in a position to influence the selection of the UPR president, who will also be her husband’s boss. Meza, according to sources, supports the selection of Córdova Figueroa.
Meza did not answer requests for comments sent to his email address.
Meanwhile, several professors’ groups complained Sunday that they had not received the files of the candidates for president. The Teaching Staff Association at UPR Cayey issued a statement demanding access to the files.